With executions and death sentences at near-historic low levels so far this year, the U.S. is witnessing a “long-term change in capital punishment,” according to a report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), a Washington, DC-based advocacy group.
The report, entitled ‘The Death Penalty in 2017,” notes that the 23 executions in 2017 were the second fewest since 1991, and the number of total imposed or projected death sentences (39) this year is the second lowest since 1972, the report said.
“The new death sentences imposed in 2017 highlight the increasing geographic isolation and arbitrary nature of the death penalty,” said DPIC Director Robert Dunham in a press release accompanying the report.
Just three countries—Riverside, CA; Clark, NV; and Maricopa, AZ—were responsible for more than 30 percent of the death sentences levied around the country.
Nearly 75 percent of executions took place in four states: (Texas (7); Arkansas (4); Florida (3); and Alabama (3).
The report notes that Harris County, Tx., which once led the nation in the number of executions, and did not execute any prisoner or impose any death sentence this year, is symbolic of the decline.
Dunham said the declining numbers coincide with a sharp drop in public support for the death penalty across the U.S., now at 55 percent—a 45-year low.
See also: Texas Death Row Population Down Again
Download the full report here.
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